Organisers of the Paavo Nurmi Games are offering a one-of-a-kind incentive bonus this year to the winner of the men’s javelin competition: throw farther than the standing Finnish record of 93.09m and you’ll be handed the deed to an island.
“Is this really true? An island? How crazy,” said world champion Johannes Vetter. “Of course I want to win an island.”
He won’t be alone. Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and Finn Tero Pitkämäki, the winner of seven major championship medals, have also confirmed their appearance at the 5 June IAAF World Challenge event and its hunt for one of the Turku Archipelago’s 20,000 islands.
Vetter has already illustrated good form this season, throwing 91.22m at a meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa, on 27 February, suggesting that he'll be a serious contender in the running for the island giveaway.
“I hope the island is big enough to fit a sauna,” said Röhler, the winner at this meeting the past two years. As part of his run-up to the Olympic title two years ago, Röhler threw a 91.28m world leading mark. Last year he won with 88.26m.
“This of course motivates me,” he added. “One more good reason to compete in Turku.”
Pitkämäki, who won in Turku in 2014 and 2015, would like to return to his winning ways.
“One has to throw quite far to win this competition,” he said. “The competition is tough with many good throwers and the throwing surface is excellent with good grip. The winning mark will surely begin with a nine; if things go well for me until the summer, a 90-metre throw is possible.” He too confirmed, for the record, “I would like to have an island.”
The unique offer notwithstanding, the meeting is already considered a central competition for the world’s best javelin throwers who need little persuading to participate.
“The atmosphere in Turku is great,” Röhler said. “The competition continues to grow better each year, also the throwing surface is good for javelin. I definitely agree with Tero, a 90-metre throw is needed for the win this summer.”
Vetter, Röhler and Pitkämäki are preparing for this summer’s European Championships in August with varying approaches. As witnessed by his world lead, Vetter has already started his season and is in good spirits following that strong effort in South Africa.
“Training has gone well, but I was surprised by such a big throw,” said Vetter, who’ll compete next at the European Throwing Cup in Leiria, Portugal, this weekend.
Röhler and Pitkämäki meanwhile plan to make their 2018 debuts at the IAAF Diamond League series opener in Doha on 4 May.
“I have only started to throw more of the javelin lately, so I don’t want to make predictions,” Röhler said. “Training has gone well and I’m healthy, that’s most important.”
Pitkämäki, training in Finland this winter, is in a similar situation.
“Training has gone well. I’m going to Tenerife for a training camp in April and will continue to Doha from there,” Pitkämäki said. “Turku will be my third meeting of the season, so I will have quite a few throws done at that stage.”
The 93.09m target was set by Aki Parviainen 19 years ago.
Mirko Jalava (organisers) and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF